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Girls Tennis - Feature Story

They were dominant. Again.

They spent the season ranked among the best in the state. Again.

Cathedral High School’s girls tennis team in fact was as good or better than any team in the state for a third consecutive season in 2018 – and that meant there was no question the season would be memorable and special.

“It’s nice to beat people, but when you play the top teams and perform well, it’s even better,” Cathedral girls tennis coach Mark Noe said. “We performed well against the Top 5, Top 10 teams in the state.”

The Irish finished the regular season 11-1, winning the City Championship and entering the postseason ranked No. 2 in the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Association rankings. They then won the Section 43 Tournament at North Central without losing an individual match.

The major question for the Irish entering the postseason wouldn’t be whether the team was stacked and loaded. Without question the Irish were that, with senior Maeve Koscielski finishing her career as she began – as one of the best tennis players in school history and one of the best in Central Indiana in recent seasons.

Koscielski, a five-star recruit ranked in the nation’s Top 25 by tennisrecuiting.com who will play collegiately at Notre Dame, won the state title for the Irish in 2016 as a sophomore. She was again a dominant presence as a senior.

“I think she’s the greatest player to ever play for Cathedral, and she’s going to help Notre Dame get back in the Top 20 again,” Noe said. “We’re going to miss her work ethic, her leadership, her as a role model. She does everything the right way and has really matured over the years. What a legacy she’ll leave – her, and her whole family.”

Koscielski, who was named Marion County Girls Sports Association Outstanding Senior Athlete for 2017-2018, also led the Irish to Sectional Championship. The Irish won that with a 5-0 victory over rival North Central on May 17 after beating Broad Ripple 5-0 in the sectional semifinal.

A sectional title always is a major accomplishment for the Irish, with perennial state power North Central also in the Irish’s sectional. The ’18 sectional title was the fourth in succession for the Irish, their longest streak since they won nine consecutive sectionals from 1983-1991.

The Irish in 2018 were far more than Koscieslki.

With Koscielski at No. 1 singles, freshman Ellie Pittman – also a Top 25 national player in her class – had a strong season at No. 2 singles and sophomore Cole Spau was strong at No. 3 singles. The duo of Top 100 sophomore Meg Coleman and Top 200 junior Claire Kocieslski was dominant at No. 1 doubles, and junior Cassie Kronenberger and sophomore Bella Montefalco played No. 2 singles.

The Irish’s lone loss of the regular season came, 3-2, to No. 1-ranked Carmel. Koscielski lost a three-set match in that match and Montefalco/Kronenberger also lost in three sets, with many observers believing Cathedral and Carmel could meet late in the season in the state finals.

“We have expectations, but we try not to put too much pressure on the girls and take it a match at a time,” Noe said. “We tried to keep it light, but definitely this team had a ball. All the girls get along. We’ve got a lot of girls who could play varsity – they’re so close – but having that dimension, they’re cool about their playing time; no one’s complaining too much. We talked about keeping the drama to a minimum and overall it has been fun.”

Noe said the end of Koscielski’s career will be end of one era, but not the end of tennis success at Cathedral. Pittman figures to be a strong player at the top spot moving forward, and the Irish underclassman were key throughout ’18.

“I say this all the time: ‘These girls come in and they’re ready to roll,’ ” Noe said. “They are not my production. I don’t manage them in the offseason. They are all disciplined and they set a precedent.”

The Irish won their Senior Night match, playing impressively in a 4-1 victory over Bloomington North on May 4. Irish seniors in ’18: Susannah Buhner, Katey Coleman, K.K. Combs, Koscielski, Rachel Long and Anna Mattingly.

The Irish also had a strong dual-match season with victories over Guerin Catholic (No. 20), Brebeuf (No. 19), Park Tudor (No. 17), Hamilton Southeastern (No. 8), North Central (No. 15) and Zionsville (No. 26).

The Irish also finished third at the April Crawfordville Invitational in a match played without four of their top players. Pittman won all of her matches that day, with Rachel Konesco and freshman Caroline Buhner also playing well. Spau and Montefalco won all three matches at the tournament and were named the tournament’s No. 1 doubles team, and Kylie Price and Elaine Dorsey played their first varsity matches there.

Editor’s note: Because of printer deadlines, the postseason results of the Cathedral girls tennis team were unavailable at press time. For information on the Irish’s postseason girls tennis results for 2018, please visit gocathedral.com.

   
Author: TMcClure   E-Mail: tmcclure@gocathedral.com